Labor Day Safety on Land and Sea
West Trenton, N.J. - Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today announced that all stations
will be mustering the maximum amount of troopers to enforce the laws and aid holiday travelers this Labor Day weekend. Patrols will be
out in force on the roadways as well as the waterways with a focus on driving down the behaviors that lead to serious and fatal
crashes. Chief among those actions is driving while intoxicated by either alcohol or drugs.
"If you operate a vehicle or watercraft in a way that threatens safety, we will hold you accountable," Colonel Fuentes said.
"In addition to DWI, we will not tolerate speeding, driving aggressively, and distracted driving."
Friday's potential impacts of the winds and possible rain from Hurricane Earl may make travel in shore communities dicey. The
storm is likely to have an even larger impact on swimmers and boaters in the ocean and bays, all of whom should heed any posted
warnings and restrictions. Travelers should plan for volume and weather-related delays on shore bound roads and prepare accordingly.
Drivers should take the very basic wet weather prep steps of checking wiper blades, tires and lights. They should fill up the gas
tank and check the oil and radiator fluid levels before leaving home base. It's also a good idea to keep some water or soft drinks in
a small cooler in case of a major traffic jam.
During long holiday weekends, fatigue often contributes to crashes. Many travelers try to squeeze every last minute out of the
long Labor Day weekend, and end up driving while exhausted. Nationally, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year,
resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. A survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that 37% of the driving
population admitted to nodding off at least once while driving. Forty-three percent of those incidents occurred between noon and
9:00 p.m., so it's not just late night or early morning drivers who are prone to fall asleep.
Inattentive driving is perhaps the single most unreported factor leading to motor vehicle crashes. Texting and handheld mobile
phone usage are illegal in New Jersey and many other states, but it's still a common sight to see people violating these laws when
police are not around. There are a variety of unmarked State Police cars being used by uniformed troopers, so the only sure way to
avoid a ticket is to use only phones equipped for hands-free operation. Other common distractions include map reading, sound
system adjustments, built-in video/game monitors, and dealing with children in the back seat.
The State Police will continue to target drivers and their passengers who are not wearing seat belts including children not
properly secured in approved child restraint safety seats. Although the front seat seatbelt compliance rate is at a record high,
93.7% in New Jersey, more than half of the traffic fatalities in the state come from the ranks of non-seat belted occupants.
People come up with all sorts of reasons why they don't want to wear seat belts, but these numbers provide an insurmountable
argument in favor of them.
The 2010 Labor Day Holiday officially begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 3rd and continues until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday,
September 7th. During the 2009 Labor Day holiday, five people lost their lives on New Jersey roadways. One was a pedestrian,
but incredibly, the other four were all on motorcycles. Overall, statewide traffic fatalities are at an all time low, but that's
still nothing to celebrate. So far this year, 362 people have died in New Jersey vehicle crashes. That's about 12% lower than
last year's historic lows, but Colonel Fuentes knows that we can do even better.
"We want people to have a fun and relaxing holiday, but then to take very seriously the ride back home," said Fuentes.
The Colonel urges motorists to use these common sense safety tips: use designated drivers when necessary, get enough sleep, leave a
little early and pay attention.
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